Welcome to ChefTalk!
We had almost the same inquiry about one month ago, so it might be valuable to you to go and read this thread: http://www.cheftalk.com/t/79425/knife-kit-for-culinary-school#post_458511
A little bit more feedback may be needed here. From your post, it sounds like you have a double requirement here. You are both intending to take a culinary arts program and you are also intending to have outside hands-on education. Presumably, you will need to be prepared for both. Also, keep in mind that you will also need to think not only about time but about your total budget.
Your first priority will be for school. Does the culinary arts program only require you to have a single 8 inch knife, or does it require you to have a more extensive kit? Do they have a list of required equipment, or do they require you to buy a kit from them or an authorized seller? In short, you need to precisely know what equiment is required. This is not an optional question - you need to be prepared on Day 1 and it is the school - not you, not us - who will set the conditions, and you need to know at least what components must be in the kit.
I am going to have to make some assumptions. First, I am assuming you are in the USA (I didn't see anything in your posted profile to the contrary). That is important, since prices and availability are different for each country. Second, we need to talk a little bit about sharpening, even before we talk about knives.
In fantasy culinary worlds, knives never get dull. They come sharp out of the box, and remain sharp forever.
And if you believe that to be the same in the real world, let me sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.
In reality, most knives coming out of the box (or blister pack) probably could use some sharpening. And, again in the real world, all knives get dull as they are used. Some knives get duller faster - but they all get dull.
You need a two-pronged approach. First, you need to slow down the dulling process. Second, you need to be able - on your own - to resharpen your knives.
The classic means to minimize dulling is to (1) have a proper cutting surface (cutting board) and (2) have a good honing rod. As for a cutting board, I am presuming the school will provide you with something. Otherwise, get a cutting board. As for a honing rod, get a 12 inch Idahone. That will run you about $30 in the USA - and will roughly double the amount of time between sharpenings.
AS for sharpening, I am going to start by recommending you read the following:
If you also have access to a good public library system, then you can read check out and read Chad Ward's book, An Edge In The Kitchen. The book is good in information, but a bit dated in knife prices.
If your total budget is $200 for everything, then you probably cannot afford an Edge Pro Apex. That means your budget can only afford a stone. Read up on stones in the ChefTalk forums, and then look for a water stone with a grit level of somewhere between 800 and 1200 grit. The stone should be not less than 2 inches by 8 inches in size (50 mm x 200 mm). And that should be a minimum. Then go practice sharpening.
Now about knives. First, I would suggest that an 8 inch knife is small. Think instead about 10 inches - it really will make a difference.
Now about specific knives.
If you have to buy a lot more than just the one 8 inch knife, then you need to keep costs under containment. The least expensive basic professional knife I know of with semi-decent quality is the Victorinox Fibrox line. Prices just recently went up, but in the USA, by way of Amazon or eBay, a new 10" Victorinox Fibrox handled chef's knife will cost you about $40 to $50. And their provenance is respectable - they are found in commercial kitchens around the world.
The next level up are the usual range of suspects for entry-level better quality knives - the Tojiro DP, the Fujiwara FKM stainless and the Richmond Artifex. Each of those will cost somewhere under $90 for a 240 mm chef's knife.
I will toss in another consideration - the MAC HB-85 Chef Series 8-1/2 inch chef's knife. This knife differs from the more expensive MAC Professional Series Chef's knife primarily by not having a bolster and by being closer in pattern to the Japanese gyuto. It is not as finely balanced as the Professional Series knife. But, according to MAC's new web site, both knives are made with the same steel and, at just over $80, the HB-85 is a full $100 less than the comparable length Professional Series MAC.
Another alternative is looking online at eBay for knives, both new and used. Just this last week, I bought several knives - including a 10" Victorinox Fibrox handled chef's knife (used, with a Victorinox boning knife - both for just under $20 including shipping), and a MAC MTH-80 Professional Series 8" Chef's knife, with kullens, for $90. (I also bought several vintage carbon steel knives, but they are a different story line). Caveat Emptor does apply there, but you can save money, if you know what you are doing. Remember to do research about each offered knife and to CAREFULLY look at each picture before pushing the "bid" button. You don't want problems.
Hope that helps